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California Wildfire Viewed by AIRS

The fires that sprang up over the weekend of October 20, 2007, ignited into major firestorms over the extreme drought stricken vegetated area of the Southern California, fanned by strong and dry Santa Ana Winds. They are strung along the mountains from locations near Santa Clarita (north of Los Angeles) to Tijuana. A series of 16 blazes reported continue to rage as of today (October 25, 2007).

A sequence of Visible/NIR images (10/21/2007 – 10/24/2007) shown here are captured by the AIRS instrument aboard a polar orbiting satellite, Aqua. Thick streamers of smoke unfurl over the Pacific Ocean. The brownish plumes are clouds of dust. During the daytime, Aqua satellite overpasses the Southern California between 2:00 - 3:00 pm PDT. Input files for these false color composite images are the AIRS Level-1B AIRS Vis/NIR product (AIRVBRAD), off of the Near-Real Time production stream at GES DISC. Bulk of the Level-1B NRT products are available to the public within 2.5  hours after observations are made.

In addition to the Level-1B radiances, users may be also interested in CH4, CO, O3, low level relative humidity and dust flags that are relevant to biomass burning.  They can be found in the AIRS Level-2 products. Please refer to the AIRS data access page for information on how to get AIRS operational data products and NRT products.

AIRS Data Access Page:


Figure 1 of California wildfire.

Figure 1. Granule start time 2007-10-21T21:53:25 UTC. The smoke is barely visible at the lower right corner.


Figure 2 of California wildfire.

Figure 2. Granule start time 2007-10-22T20:53:25 UTC. In addition to the smoke plumes from the fires in the north, you see the remains of Storm Kiko in the south.


Figure 3a of California wildfire.

Figure 3 (a). Granule start time 2007-10-23T21:35:25 UTC. The smoke is shown at the top of the image.


Figure 3b of California wildfire

Figure 3 (b). Granule start time 2007-10-23T21:41:25 UTC. It is the very next granule to Figure 3(a) of the same orbit.  The smoke plumes have traveled past 132 degrees west longitude.


Figure 4a of California wildfire

Figure 4 (a). Granule start time 2007-10-24T20:41:25 UTC. The smoke appears at the top right corner of the image.


Figure 4b of California wildfire

Figure 4 (b). Granule start time 2007-10-24T22:23:25 UTC. The smoke is shown at the lower right corner of the image. It is to the west of Figure 4(a) from the adjacent orbit.


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Last updated: Jun 10, 2010 11:55 AM ET